Eli Klein Gallery | (In)directions: Queerness in Chinese Contemporary Photography

Honoring the landscape of queerness

Written by

Ani Gutierrez

Photographed by

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Kanthy Peng. Artificial Tear, 2019. Archival pigment print. 30 x 24 inches (76 x 61 cm). Edition of 3. Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein Gallery © Kanthy Peng.

Eli Klein Gallery presents an artistic celebration of the beauty behind queerness in the group exhibition, (In)directions: Queerness in Chinese Contemporary Photography. From November 18 to January 31, viewers are invited to experience the work provided by 21 artists who combined their visions of what it means to step out of the restraint provided by the status quo to express an array of photographic mediums. This show honors the range of genders and sexualities, as well as highlighting the cultural complications that co-exist.  

While no definition may perfectly fit queerness as a whole, this exhibition, which is curated by Phil Zheng Cai and Douglas Ray, hopes to draw outside perspectives to consider how a photographically artistic approach to queerness can impact one’s reality.

Whiskey Chow. Queeropometry, 2022-2023. UV print on aluminum. Set of 612 x 18 inches (30 x 46 cm) EACH. Edition of 6. Photos by Jon Archdeacon. Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein Gallery © Whiskey Chow.

Various concepts surrounding queerness are presented within the show, peaking into the experiences these artists have faced. Physical forms of what the journey to self-discovery is like is presented through work highlighting the transformation of fluid identities, presented by artists such as Chi Peng, Mengwen Cao, and Leonard Suryajaya. Other artists touched on concepts such as the want for belonging and the drive to becoming, and the comparison of truth and fiction through the identity of a Chinese persona. 

Leonard Suryajaya. Arisan, 2017. Archival inkjet print. 40 x 50 inches (102 x 127 cm). Edition of 5. Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein Gallery © Leonard Suryajaya.

Effortlessly blending the boundaries of queerness with evolving environments, as well as consulting traditional art history, the show also features work exploring the human body. Artists such as Whiskey Chow and Pixy Liao do so in their work by challenging gender norms through the context of media and sexual expression. Alongside the visual work of the artists, the exhibition also features an illustrated catalog and essay by Phil Zheng Cai, as well as an essay by Douglas Ray. 

With a combination of expressions provided by individuals who have lived the lives they craft in an artistic form, Queerness in Chinese Contemporary Photography strives to leave three pondering questions in the minds of the audience: What is queer photography? What is Chinese queerness? and What would a queered contemporary look like?

(In)directions: Queerness in Chinese Contemporary Photography is on view from November 18 to January 31

Alec Dai. My Jet Black Hair, 2021. Archival pigment print. 30 x 20 inches (76 x 51 cm). Edition of 8. Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein Gallery © Alec Dai.
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Eli Klein Gallery, Flaunt Magazine, Ani Gutierrez